New program aims to help communities plan for future extreme weather events

Flooding in Clinton on June 28

A new program aimed to stir discussion among New York communities severely impacted by floods in recent years aims to help the state bounce back and better prepare for future significant weather events.

Flooding is fresh in the minds of many residents in the Mohawk Valley and Central New York who saw waters rush in just two and a half weeks ago.

As those communities continue to dry out, and look ahead to rebuilding, many people are wondering how they're going to pay for what they lost and cover costs to come back.

Though the White House has declared 12 New York Counties as federal disaster areas -- including Herkimer, Chenango, Oneida, Madison and Cortland Counties -- Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funds will only go toward repairing infrastructure and public buildings.

FEMA says those whose properties were affected by the raging waters are not eligible for funds included within the Individual Assistance Program.

Governor Andrew Cuomo said last week that if the FEMA funds did not cover individual needs, New York State would step in.

There was talk the governor could call a special session of the Legislature to find a way to provide for homeowners.

On Tuesday, Cuomo said he and legislators are ready to devote about $10 million to hundreds of flooding victims in the Mohawk Valley. Cuomo says legislative leaders support the spending from the state's $135 billion budget and details for homeowners will be available by Wednesday.

This Thursday, the governor will host the "Build Back Better: New York Rising Storm Recovery Conference" in Albany, in which the launch of a new program called New York Rising Communities will be announced.

The program is designed to help recovering communities, and draw on the ways municipalities that were severely damaged by Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee have already started to bounce back.

Discussions will focus on ways to strengthen their resiliency, and contribute to the state's efforts to plan smarter, and stay ahead of potential future extreme weather events.

The conference starts at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, at the Egg Center for the Performing Arts in Albany.